Hazing News

Dying to Belong: another Russian military incident

Monday, August 27, 2007. Issue 3729. Page 3.
Hazing Victim Close to Death

A young conscript is close to death after two drunken officers at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome beat him with belts and then dumped him in a dog cage, an official said Friday.

An officer and a warrant officer at the cosmodrome beat Sergei Sinkonen and a second conscript with belts after drinking heavily to celebrate a wedding, said the local official, who asked not to be identified.

The officers initially came across three conscripts, but one of them ran away, the official said.

After beating him, the officers threw Sinkonen into a cage for guard dogs, where he was found in the morning.

“Unfortunately, Sinkonen’s condition is hopeless,” the official said. “He is being kept alive by artificial respiration, but he is brain dead now. He is being kept alive by the doctors.”

A spokeman for the Space Forces, which runs the cosmodrome, said an investigation had been started and that those guilty would be held accountable.

Sinkonen was born in 1986. Both his mother and sister are at the hospital. The cosmodrome is located in the northern Arkhangelsk region.

Bullying and abuse are commonplace in the military. Conscripts are sometimes killed or seriously injured by beatings, though the Space Forces prides itself on high levels of discipline and is seen as an elite branch of the armed forces.

Doctors last year amputated the legs and genitals of a conscript who was abused at the Chelyabinsk Tank Academy.

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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